Boredom at Work: Why It’s Essential to Keep Employees Engaged and Satisfied

Lauren Deegan

Boredom at the workplace has long been associated with specific types of jobs. Some have connected it with highly repetitive jobs such as those on assembly lines and at check stands. Others connect it to desk-work jobs. The latest research, though, says that boredom affects workers in all kinds of jobs. If you’re an employer, this uptick in boredom may well correspond with a downward trend in productivity. So how do we keep employees engaged?

What’s Making Work So Boring?

Employment experts argue that more workers are bored today than were in the past because our lives are increasingly governed by paperwork and automation. For many employees, work is an endless routine of filling out forms, attending meetings and returning emails. Regardless of how exciting the subject is, all those meetings and emails can become incredibly boring.

The nature of automation might also contribute to workplace boredom. Here at Cristaux, we have the rare privilege of working in a creative field where we don’t endure a lot of automation. For most companies, though, automation of processes is the norm. Employees have to interact with automated systems to do everything from fill out timecards to review sales figures. We’ve become less connected with others at work, and that’s boring.

Identifying Bored Employees

When you were younger, you might have thought of boredom as having nothing to do. As you’ve gotten older, you’ve no doubt discovered that you can be totally bored when you have a ton of things to do. That’s because the actual definition of boredom is to be weary and restless because of a lack of interest. It’s not that you can’t find anything to do, it’s that you can’t find anything interesting to do.

Often referred to in literature as ennui, this type of boredom is common among employees today. Take a hard look at your organization. Have you noticed a decrease in overall productivity during the last year? Do your employees seem to wonder around aimlessly? Has use of social networks and text messaging taken over your office? These are some of the most common signs of boredom in the workforce today.

Why Boredom is Dangerous to Your Company

Boredom at your company means more than just employees yawning in their cubicles. It also means more than employee motivation. No matter how important a job is, no one wants to do it if there’s not something fulfilling about it. That means that crucial tasks might never be completed simply because no one wants to go through the drudgery of doing them. It’s a serious problem in any line of business.

Bored employees are also employees who just aren’t performing at their best. You don’t put forth your best effort when you’re bored with something, and neither do the people who work for you. Yes, it’s true that some boredom at work is probably inevitable. However, if boredom is the prevailing mood in your workplace, employees will start doing the bare minimum to get by. It might be because they do not receive adequate recognition for past achievements. They might also feel that anyone appreciates the drudge-work they have to do on a daily basis.

Whatever the cause, it’s essential to remember that boredom isn’t just a problem in the lower ranks of your organization. It can affect people at every level of your organization, and that’s especially true if your company has been taken over by paperwork, meetings and endless emails. Unfortunately, boredom is just as deadly to productivity and creativity in corner offices as it is in crowded cubicles.

At Cristaux, we create striking custom recognition products because we love helping companies bust productivity-killing boredom. If you’re worried that ennui is dragging down your workplace, ask your employees if they’re bored. If they say they are, find out why and let them know that you’re invested in finding solutions. To keep employees engaged, try overhauling your recognition program and to make it more exciting.